If you’re a young man here in America, you’ve probably got a Peter Pan problem. In the first post in this series on Thursday, we looked at a list of symptoms that might indicate how even a Christian young man can struggle with a failure to grow up and take responsibility for the things that God wants him to take responsibility for. Then, in the second post, we looked at the heart issue behind this failure: we insist on maintaining the illusion of adequacy, and thus we only do the things that we are good at (e.g. watching TV, surfing the Internet, or even homework or sports). We aren’t willing to take on things that we’re bad at because it would wound our pride and force us to cry out to God for help.
We were not saved to be mediocre. God did not choose us in Jesus Christ “before the foundation of the world” to merely do the things for which we are adequate but “that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4). So often, we settle for legalism. We say and do enough to look like we’re obeying God’s law—enough to assuage our consciences and look good in front of other people. But we’re living a life devoid of faith. We aren’t willing to take risks for God; we’d rather trust in our own flesh than trust in God.
I don’t suppose you want to keep living like that. Here’s God’s way to live:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
“The man who trusts in man” (v. 5) lives in a wasteland. But the one who trusts in the Lord—he grows and flourishes, bears fruit and stays green even in times of drought.
When we humble ourselves and begin to trust in the Lord rather than in our own adequacy, God’s Word comes alive. When you start doing what God calls you to do, you will quickly find your own wisdom and your own strength to be inadequate. You will find your own sin to be overwhelming. You will find yourself in prayer, often and at length, crying out for help. You will find yourself turning to the Bible for wisdom, guidance, and encouragement—and its words will no longer be boring but will crackle with energy. You will find yourself turning to mature believers for advice, instead of keeping your problems bottled up inside of you.
If you’re waiting for God to flip some switch inside of you to give you the faith to do all of those things…sorry, it doesn’t usually work that way. Here’s the advice that the apostle Paul gives: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). First, remember that God is at work in you. He isn’t watching lazily from heaven, waiting for you to make the first move, turning a deaf ear to your prayers. He is on your side. He is with you in this! He wants to see you grow and serve him faithfully, and he will exercise all of his might to make sure you do. Second, you have to get to work. You’re simply going to have to say a prayer, suck it up, and go out and take care of your responsibilities. It will be hard. You will be hurt. But you will finally know what it means to be “happy in Jesus.”
It’s a simple truth, and we tend to dismiss simple truths because we think we’re beyond them. But the fact is that we need to learn to trust and obey, like the hymn says:
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of his Word,
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.